One reason why we love movies is because they offer an escape: a voyeuristic trip into somewhere else where we don’t have to deal with any problems or conflicts. Another reason is because they can illustrate complex ideas and concepts about life that we struggle with every day. Lady Bird is a film that falls into the latter.
The first major directorial gig for Greta Gerwig, Lady Bird is an autobiographical film that tells the story of Christine ‘Lady Bird’ McPherson (Saoirse Ronan) a teenaged girl growing up in Sacramento, getting through her final year of high school, and struggling to solidify her identity. As the prospect of college approaches Lady bird has big dreams of moving away and studying in New York, but her aspirations are limited by her family’s poor status and a turbulent relationship with her mother (Laurie Metcalf).
Lady Bird is a raw and subtle movie, but one that has a lot of power. While the story might seem tame on paper, watching it as it unfolds triggers all kinds of emotional responses because it chronicles an experience that we have all gone through and will continue to go through until we’re dust. When you’re on the cusp of adulthood identity is everything and of course you want to be the best, coolest, most successful person that you can be. But what if that version of you is unreachable? That’s the deeper conflict that this movie tackles; not just with the character of Lady Bird, but with everyone: her friends, her lovers, her family.
In terms of the writing, the main power of this movie does come from the screenplay. It’s a ferris wheel of emotion in that it doesn’t seem like a lot is happening, but all of a sudden you’ll feel nervous, or sad, or relieved and you won’t know how you got there. It’s raw, it’s genuine, and it’s beautiful.
And the cast was absolutely perfect too. Saoirse Ronan was born to be the cool girl that didn’t think she was cool. As Lady Bird she spends her time in this movie trying to be a better version of herself in everyone else’s eyes as well as her own and it’s absolutely mesmerising to watch. She’s selfish, but at the same time she’s caring, and loving, and a large part of what makes the movie so powerful is her ability to play such a complex, but rich character.
Laurie Metcalf is the mother that we don’t necessarily want, but the one we really need. A breath of fresh air compared the edgier Oscar bait mums we’ve seen in Frances McDormand (Three Billboard Outside Ebbing, Missouri) and Allison Janney (I, Tonya) Metcalf is deep and seeing her interactions with Lady Bird are both beautiful and dramatic.
Lady Bird is a truly gorgeous movie: definitely one to see before the Oscars come upon us.